Historical Fiction

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Carlos Ruiz Zafón completely understands what it means to be seduced by a book--to get lost in a plot and feel overwhelmed by perfectly-formed words and phrases. Perhaps that is what allows him to describe--and replicate--that experience in his own novel, The Shadow of the Wind.

The Shadow of the Wind opens in Barcelona in 1945. Daniel Sempere’s father is about to introduce him to a mysterious and labyrinthine place called the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. In the Cemetery, the young boy is taught some very important things about the lives of books: “Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.”

If you like Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids.  You can browse the book matches here.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: "The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon -- when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach -- an "outlander" -- in a Scotland torn by war and raiding Highland clans in the year of Our Lord ... 1743. Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into intrigues and dangers that may threaten her life ... and shatter her heart. For here she meets James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, and becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire ... and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives." (Book summary)

If you enjoyed Outlander,  you may enjoy these other historical romances with strong characters or time-traveling novels:

Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning
He would sell his warrior soul to possess her. . . . An alluring laird... He was known throughout the kingdom as Hawk, legendary predator of the battlefield and the boudoir. No woman could refuse his touch, but no woman ever stirred his heart-until a vengeful fairy tumbled Adrienne de Simone out of modern-day Seattle and into medieval Scotland. Captive in a century not her own, entirely too bold, too outspoken, she was an irresistible challenge to the sixteenth-century rogue. Coerced into a marriage with Hawk, Adrienne vowed to keep him at arm's length-but his sweet seduction played havoc with her resolve. A prisoner in time... She had a perfect "no" on her perfect lips for the notorious laird, but Hawk swore she would whisper his name with desire, begging for the passion he longed to ignite within her. Not even the barriers of time and space would keep him from winning her love. Despite her uncertainty about following the promptings of her own passionate heart, Adrienne's reservations were no match for Hawk's determination to keep her by his side. . . .  (Catalog summary)

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
"A fisherman's daughter in 1930s Japan rises to become a famous geisha. After training, Sayuri's virginity is sold to the highest bidder, then the school finds her a general for a patron. When he dies, she is reunited with the only man she loved."-catalog summary


 

One Thousand White Women: the Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus

One Thousand White Women: the Journals of May Dodd

One of my patrons called me to discuss One Thousand White Women: the Journal of May Dodd by Jim Fergus. (RC 47157) This is a fictionalized account of a true incident in which an Indian delegation traveled to Washington, D.C. to negotiate a treaty.

One of the Indians was a Cheyenne leader named Little Wolf. As part of the negotiations, Little Wolf requested that his tribe be supplied with 1,000 white women, in an effort to assist in the assimilation of the Cheyenne peoples with the white man. Predictably, the request was met with derision and horror. 

The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

Gemma Hardy’s story parallels Jane Eyre’s experiences—both have an evil aunt and have to work for their educations at boarding school as charity girls.  Both girls are bullied and treated unfairly by family, school staff, and students. Both girls have disappointments with men who have secrets.  If you enjoyed Charlotte Bronte’s gothic tales or Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, you will love The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey. Set in the 1950’s and 1960’s in Scotland and Iceland, the author uses the imagery of birds and flight to underscore Gemma’s journey.

If you like Virgins of Paradise by Barbara Wood

Virgins of Paradise by Barbara Wood

This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids.  You can browse the book matches here.

Virgins of Paradise by Barbara Wood: "A magnificent saga about two sisters from a rich, aristocratic Egyptian family who come of age in postwar Cairo. Inside a beautiful mansion on Virgins of Paradise Street in post–World War II Cairo, Jasmine and Camelia Rasheed grow to womanhood under the watchful eyes of their grandmother and the other women of the prominent Rasheed family. Despite the glamour and elegance of the city, women still wear the veil and live in harems. But as Egypt begins to change, so do Jasmine and Camelia.

Rebelling against a society in which the suppression of women is assumed, Jasmine and Camelia embark on turbulent personal and professional voyages of discovery. Cast out of the family, Jasmine travels to America to become a doctor while Camelia sets out to become one of the foremost beledi dancers in the Middle East." (Book Description)

 If you enjoyed this book's elements of discovering other cultures, as well as the family saga aspect, here are some other titles you may enjoy:

The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan
Set in contemporary San Francisco and in a Chinese village where Peking Man is unearthed, "The Bonesetter's Daughter" is an excavation of the human spirit: the past, its deepest wounds, its most profound hopes. This is the story of LuLing Young, who searches for the name of her mother, the daughter of the famous Bonesetter from the Mouth of the Mountain. The story conjures the pain of broken dreams, the power of myths, and the strength of love that enables us to recover in memory what we have lost in grief. (worldcat.org)
 

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
The narrator of the story is Bethia Mayfield, growing up in the tiny settlement of Great Harbor amid a small band of pioneers and Puritans. Restless and curious, she yearns after an education that is closed to her by her sex. As often as she can, she slips away to explore the island's glistening beaches and observe its native Wampanoag inhabitants. At twelve, she encounters Caleb, the young son of a chieftain, and the two forge a tentative secret friendship that draws each into the alien world of the other. (worldcat.org)
 

In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff

In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff

Set in the first decade of the 20th century, In the Shadow of Gotham, by Stefanie Pintoff, combines the atmosphere of a gothic novel with the more invigorating pace of a police procedural.  Simon Ziele has buried himself in a quiet town in Westchester County to escape the memory of his lost love. He was an up-and-coming detective in the New York City police force when tragedy drove him to seek a quieter position, far away from the violence of Manhattan’s darker quarters.

And yet, when the call came to investigate a murder at the home of one of Westchester’s finest families, Detective Ziele is drawn in by duty to find out who killed the lovely, young mathematics genius in such a shocking and brutal way before it happens again.

Death in Lacquer Red by Jeanne M. Dams

Death in Lacquer Red by Jeanne M. Dams

It’s 1900, and lovely, smart Hilda Johansson is one of many immigrants working as live-in servants to rich households in Southbend, Indiana. In Jeanne M. Dams’ Death in Lacquer Red, Hilda has a pleasant if strenuous life, working hard to save money to bring her other family members over from Sweden. She is being courted by a handsome Irish fireman who won’t let the fact that their families wouldn’t approve--he’s Catholic and she’s Lutheran--get in the way of the romance. Even so, a dead body in the lilac bushes does put a damper on their day out together.

If you like The Peacemaker by Lori Copeland

The Peacemaker by Lori Copeland

This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids.  You can browse the book matches here.

The Peacemaker by Lori Copeland: "Bull-headed Wynne Elliot has one goal in mind: to track down Cass Claxton and shoot him dead for leaving her at the altar and running off with her money. But when Cass's brother Cole shows up, Wynne finds herself on an unexpected adventure, and she just might lose her heart." (catalog summary)

If you like The Peacemaker, you may also enjoy these titles:

Land of My Heart by Tracie Peterson.
Peterson paints an unforgettable portrait of this rich, rugged landscape, populated by strong and spirited characters. When Dianne Chadwick urges her family to move to a ranch in the Montana Territory, she has no idea that her new life in the rugged frontier will not be the idyllic adventure she expects.  (Catalog summary)

 

 

Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke.
Marty and Clark Davis' tragic circumstances brought them to a "marriage of convenience" on the frontier prairies during the mid 1800s. The story of how Clark's patient, caring love mirrored that of the heavenly Father, drawing Marty to faith and to love, has captured the hearts and imaginations of many readers.  (Adapted from the book description)


 

Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

Do you believe in ghosts? Violet Willoughby does not and she is the daughter of a medium, albeit a fraudulent one. In Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey, the year is 1872, London England and Violent is the daughter of a scheming, manipulative and opportunistic mother who wants her to “marry up” no matter what. They rig séances and swindle unsuspecting high society spiritualists. After many faked séances Violet remains a skeptic of ghosts until one fateful night she sees a transparent girl oozing water and lilies and who will not rest until her killer is brought to justice. Violet is the only one who sees the very persistent spirit and soon realizes that it is up to her to solve the mystery behind her death in order to have the spirit be at peace.

Native Son by Richard Wright

Native Son by Richard Wright

Richard Wright’s Native Son is an exceptional example of dynamic, participatory literature. Rather than allowing the reader to effortlessly absorb the words on the page, Wright undermines the passivity and comfort we often expect when reading. Both the content of the novel and Wright’s literary style provoke and disturb, immersing the reader in a dense psychological terrain that is simultaneously intimate and larger-than-life.

Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Native Son follows the life of Bigger Thomas, a young African-American man living in squalor with his mother and siblings. Bigger’s mother holds him accountable for the welfare of the family, but his ability to work towards a stable life seems perpetually hindered. He can’t overcome his poverty because he can’t get a job that pays well, and he can’t get a decent job because of his lack of education and limited social mobility. He is also imprisoned by the sense that, as an African-American man, his mere existence has been criminalized: “There was just the old feeling, the feeling that he had had all his life: he was black and had done wrong.”